Ducks Becoming an “it” School for O-Iineman?

Darren Perkins Editorials 50 Comments

Over the past week, the Ducks added five-star offensive tackle Kelvin Banks and four-star offensive lineman Cameron Williams. The two are just the latest of highly ranked offensive line recruits to chose Oregon over some of college football’s premier programs. With head coach Mario Cristobal’s experience and passion for the position, it is becoming quite apparent that Oregon is becoming an “it” school for the beefy and talented lineman.

Before Cristobal’s arrival to the U of O, it was long considered impossible for the Ducks to consistently recruit blue-chip linemen. With Eugene not in a recruiting hotbed such as Texas or Southern California, it was a challenge to bring the big and gifted bodies to the Northwest. For Oregon to be successful on offense the Ducks had come up with a scheme advantage, as it was during the Chip Kelly years.

But no more.

Of course, as Mr. FishDuck has recently been hammering away at the Duck’s lack of scoring under Cristobal, it would be nice to see Oregon with both the blue-chip offensive lineman and the scheme advantage. We pray this will be the year.

But for the moment, we can sit back and enjoy the Duck’s recent success at bringing in the high-end, big boys upfront. How long do you think this uptick in offensive line talent will last? Is Cristobal building a withstanding culture, or one that will just survive his time at Oregon?

Darren Perkins
Spokane, Washington
Top photo credit: Twitter

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As good as superstar recruits like Kayvon, Flowe, and Banks are… teams like Ohio St and Alabama load up with all kinds of players like these every year.

For Oregon to be able to compete with them, ,they would have needed to land JTT, Foreman, a 5 star RB, and 5 star CBs.

Oregon has stepped up recruiting, but they are still very far away from being the best at recruiting. The only thing that changes that is winning BIG GAMES.

Oregon did not get the predicted bump in recruiting after the 2010 season because they lost to Auburn. And then in 2011, they lost to LSU. They were one missed block away from the natty again in 2012. Then in 2014 season, Zeke Elliot ran all over them to get the championship.

Recruiting helps you win and winning helps recruiting. The next step is beating Ohio St in 2021. Do this and the brand is stronger than ever. Lay an egg and top high school players look elsewhere for fame.

Lets face it – the best kids want to be famous. Money and an NFL job doesn’t buy you happiness. They want to be rock stars. They want the spotlight. To get there, the Ducks need to win big games.

Ducks need to beat top 5 teams in the early non-conf season – and then make it to the playoffs and create some excitement. Then the 5 stars will be beating down the door to come to Eugene.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

You are quite right….win with what we now have and the example of the 5-Stars coming here already will create a new path to Eugene!


It will be interesting to see if Oregon will produce more OL/DL than pre MC. Penei is the first recruit by MC(during his tenure) to get drafted. KT will go in the next draft.

Only 10 guys drafted in the last 22 years were 1st or 2nd rounders.
OL/DL drafted since 2000
2021 1st OT Sewell
2020 G Lemieux, C Jake Hanson
2019 DE Jalen Jelks
2018 G Tyrell Crosby
2017 N/A
2016 1st DE Buckner
2015 1st DE Armstead, 2nd T Jake Fisher, C Grasu
2014 DE Taylor Hard
2013 1st DE Dion Jordan, 1st G Kyle Long
2012 G Mark Asper
2011 N/A
2010 N/A
2009 2nd C Max Unger, T Fenuki Tupou, DT Ra’Shon Harris, DE Nick Reed
2008 T Geoff Schwartz
2007 DT Matt Toeaina
2006 1st DT Ngata
2005 G Adam Snyder
2004 2nd DT Igor Olshansky, 2nd DT Junior Siavii
2003 N/A
2002 N/A
2001 N/A
2000 N/A

Alabama had 14 OL/DL drafted in the first 2 rounds since 2015.
tOSU had 7 OL/DL drafted in the first 2 rounds since 2015.
Clemson had 7 OL/DL drafted in the first 2 rounds since 2015.


Will Kingsly and Banks live up to their recruiting prowess if they play together?

Will it be like the offensive version of Buckner and Armstead? I’m going to call it a ‘yes’.

J Duck

I think you hit it, we got the beef, let’s prove it with scheme. Penei winning the Outland will keep the tap flowing with MC and Mirabal, the other OL’s develop well here. It’s the foundation to offensive success. We had the skill with Herbert at QB, and I think that room is more loaded now than ever. The other skill positions are pretty loaded, at least on paper.

So to Charles’ discussion yesterday…will MC get the scheme to work? Will he let Moorhead cut loose and not get in the way? The D looks increasingly promising. Is the PISTOL part of the PROBLEM? The P in R-P-O is not Pistol.

Now to get the 5 Star D lineman…and into the playoff 2nd round and beyond yearly…

Jon Sousa

What we see in recruiting – at the O-line and other positions – is my reason for optimism for the future, in spite of the lack of “elite team scoring” in the present.

As good as our O-line recruiting has been, it was pointed out by a commentator on this board that we are still behind the Bama, tOSU, and the Clemsons in recruiting O-line. It was stated that the best-of-the-best still chose the the “top three”.

But what we are seeing here is improvement. Banks is the highest O-line recruit ever. The trajectory has been upwards on O-line recruitment since Mario arrived. If this trend continues, there will be no difference between the “top three” and the “top 4” (including Oregon) as far as O-line recruitment is concerned.

Four years from now, our O-line should be miles ahead of what our O-line was when Sewell won the Outland… because of elite talent across the board (line) as opposed to one elite guy.

“In 678 career pass-blocking snaps over the last two years at Oregon, Sewell has allowed one sack. One. That’s it.” – John Buhler a year ago here. Now, imagine a whole line made up of guys who are just as good (OK, almost just as good).

Patience, my friends. Oregon is still growing. When Oregon plateaus and we are still not a regular in the Rose Bowl and/or the Playoffs then everyone can start crying into their IPAs.

Recruiting is up in the OL, WR, TE, LB, C, and S rooms. Soon it will be up in the RB and OL rooms. All of these areas are still on an upward trajectory. There is hope for the future.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

When I am sobbing about my “Beloved Ducks” I always steer my IPA a foot away–can’t let a little salt ruin the tasty beverage!

A fun read, Jon–thanks.

Jon Sousa

LOL. I’m still trying to answer your question of yesterday.

Santa Rosa Duck

I have nothing to add to this discussion other than to thank Darren for writing this and thank all the excellent commentators. 58 days to football in Autzen Stadium. GO DUCKS!

For the middle of the summer? FANTASTIC discussions! For all of you reading but not posting–jump in, as the “Duck Water is just Fine!”

And for a shameless plug…I have some dandy articles for discussion coming up!


Big, fast, and elite O-linemen can only make a team better, and MC is certainly bringing them to Oregon. While Oregon is definitely becoming an “it” school for linemen (O and D), they are not yet “the” “it” school.

That will only happen when Oregon has built a reputation for dominating the trenches game in and game out. Such a reputation would be earned by a combination of relentlessness, speed, power, technique, and good old fashioned nastiness, displayed consistently. Each and every game.

If Oregon’s “big uglies” can truly begin to dominate, beyond the PAC, routinely and consistently, we will see high caliber ball handlers lining up to commit. At that point the U of O would definitely be where we want them to be.

Go Ducks!

Jon Joseph

This from Stewart Mandel’s Mailbag posted today on The Athletic.

“The way Cristobal is building his roster is conducive to achieving prolonged success, but he’s still got to prove he can parlay those five-stars into Playoff runs.”

Think we’ve seen similar takes more than once on FishDuck?

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Many would point to Outland Trophy winner, Penei Sewell as evidence of that happening, yet I would like to see one make the NFL that was not so gifted to start with and that he recruited and developed. Fun to watch for!

Sweet hole for CJ Verdell_KC.jpg
Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Kelvin Banks is not just important as a 5-Star, but because he can move. You will note that many of the plays we’ve had in the past–are not present any longer if they require an offensive lineman to pull and block in space. The reason is that many of our current OL are big, but not necessarily quick or agile for pulling.

Coach Cristobal made mention in his introductory Press Conference about the continued use of Pin-and-Pull, yet we see it now only rarely. Thus plays like the Sweep-Read, Counters–so many others are not available in the playbook. Instead we have “reach” blocks for the Stretch play out of the Pistol, where the OL is working to get on the playside shoulder of the defender that covers him. That works, but it is not as effective and does not create the same running lanes and cut-back alleys.

Many would say that “I need to give that up,” as those Chip Kelly linemen are not suitable for the next level? Baloney. Tyrell Crosby, Jake Fisher, Kyle Long and Hroniss Grasu are examples that refute that. And Grasu would pull from the center position and yet beat LaMichael James to the edge in order to pave the way for him? Whew!

Counter Trey Example.jpg

Great comment and video.

BTW: Slade-M is transferring to SMU (not closer to his home me thinks?) to play for new SMU DC, Jim Leavitt.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Putting Jim Levitt as DC for offensive guru and HC Sonny Dykes at SMU could create the powerful program for the Mustangs that eluded him at Cal…

Leavitt GB.jpg

And SMU in addition to S-M, is using the ‘waiver wire’ much to its advantage and is also picking up top drawer recruits.

Jon Sousa

To me it makes sense that S-M goes to play under Levitt because of familiarity with scheme. S-M no longer has 4 years to learn something new and get good at it. If he wants to play at the next level (and he does) he needs to put up numbers now. That should be easier at SMU,

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

When I think of the offensive numbers that Jared Goff and that offense put up at Cal under Sonny Dykes….create a great defense to go with that high-scoring offense and you have……


Spring Practice  Austin Maloata JS.jpg

Nothing more satisfying than watching a pulling OL take out a DE/LB that is setting up to make an easy tackle.

A smart QB(capable of effectively reading a defense)has a big advantage running base inside and outside zone RPO plays. Add in linemen that can pin and pull to that recipe and you start to see big chunks of yardage being gained.


Gary Zimmerman, and Max Unger are names that come to mind as exceptional OL from the Ducks to have continued on to the NFL and thrived. Zimmerman played at Oregon in the 80’s and is in the NFL Hall of Fame, and Unger was drafted into the NFL in 2009.

Looking at the current OL room that Cristobal has helped bring to the Ducks is way beyond impressive. These guys that we have now are literally the foundation of future Duck Football success.

This year our OL will improve just based on playing time together, next year it will be even better, and the year after that it has the potential to be the very best in the nation.

We probably have our highest rated OL, linebackers, QB’s, and receivers we have ever had currently on the team. Time to play some nasty football and get focused on a National Championship.

Jon Joseph

Great take. And I’m with you on it all coming together in 2023 when Texas Tech replaces Ohio State and Georgia.

Kurt Rambis

Hmmm…don’t you mean “…to chose Oregon over some of college football’s OTHER premier programs”?

I mean, yeah, Ohio State, Clemson, Alabama, and probably Oklahoma, LSU, and Georgia are arguably on a higher level than Oregon. But not Notre Dame, Texas, Texas A&M, Florida, FSU, USC, Michigan, Washington, and others that are traditional “blue bloods” – and we’ve been taking plenty of players from those programs as well. I would put Oregon’s results in recruiting and on the field at or above many of what are commonly considered “premier programs.”

Now we just need to see if we can’t make it to the Clemson/OSU/Bama level…

Jon Joseph

Thanks Darren.

Compared to ‘yesterday,’ few big time OL recruits are playing in California these days.

Hats off to Mario for bringing in quality OL guys from all over the country.

Going into to Texas and prying kids away from TX, A+M, OK and SEC school is one heck of an accomplishment.

Now, how about a 4/5* RB to line up behind these big boys?


Ripples is what I see ahead. Ripples into the D-line and maybe a big kid who wants to compete against the best across the line during practice?

Maybe a small wave of RB’s wanting to run behind a pulling lineman who makes LB’s get out of the way.

An effect on our qb having some extra time behind the line. More long passes and accuracy with the O-line giving the qb time in the pocket.

Easier 3rd down conversions. The occasional plunge up the middle becoming even more effective, although less frequent!

With success on the O-line I see ripples of success throughout the program. I also see more O-line coming to Oregon with the 1st round draft success.

The Cowboys of old were built around their offensive line. A great O-line is the foundation of an elite team.

Jon Joseph

Spot on. The best RB in the world is going nowhere without at the very least, a decent OL.

In 2021 the Pac-12 leads the P5 for the most returning players. This # includes a lot of OL starters coming back.

Hopefully, this will help the conference make a step forward this season?


Great article and it does raise the question of which position is critical to an elite program. I would say a good is qb is the easy choice.

Recently the national champs have had a WR who could stretch the field and make the big catch. The WR seems to be the position Oregon has suffered the greatest gap between the elite and the also rans. You need a go to receiver to keep the defense honest, and Oregon has suffered without that threat.

Some decent qb’s have also looked amazing with talented recievers. Johnny football had NFL talent at receiver and won the Heisman. It will be interesting to see how good Mac Jones is without the talent he had at Alabama. We all know how good Justin has looked now that he has top talent to throw to.

The O-line is the hidden gem of the elite teams, well done Mario!

Jon Joseph

QB, no doubt.

Brown with his experience is the safe choice to start at QB in 2021. But what is Brown’s upside?

It may well be due to his surrounding cast at BC but Brown has never started against and defeated a top 25 ranked opponent.

I see Brown behind the QBs at the following schools the Ducks play in 2021. Ohio State, UCLA + Utah (he would also be behind USC + ASU.) Push with UW, OR ST, CAL. Likely better than the rest of the competition.

I like every Duck fan hope that under Moorhead and with a better cast of characters, Brown will up his game in 2021.

But if he struggles I certainly hope the coaches will not hesitate to get some playing time for one of the younger QBs.

This is a very young team playing a very difficult schedule in 2021. It would be senseless to give up on the 2021 season. But IMO, equally senseless not to have a younger guy with more upside having game experience coming into 2022/2023.

And if Brown starts, which QB(s) will be lost to the transfer portal? Fortunately, none of the younger guys opted to transfer before the 7/1/21 cut off date in order to be immediately eligible in 2021. But with 2020 not counting against eligibility, a player can transfer and red shirt in 2021 without losing eligibility down the road.

I’m with you on Mac Jones. However, Jones won a national championship and finished up there in the Heisman voting.

I wish nothing but the best for AB but I don’t believe anyone believes that he, like Jones, has the talent to be a 1st round NFL draft pick.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Darron Thomas and Bill Musgrave demonstrated to me that you do not have to have NFL talent to run a college offense well. It comes down to the fit–as both QBs were ideal for the offense being run at that time.

If the Moorhead offense matches up with Anthony Brown as well as many of think….you might be pleasantly surprised.

Bill Musgrave_John Giustina.jpg

Musgrave played when I was in school. Love the old school unis! Was a fun time winning and losing. Ducks are on a different level from when I was in Eugene.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Oh…I LOVE that color of rich green–it is my favorite over time and wish they would go with it, as I prefer it over the “Candy-Apple” green currently.

Jon Joseph

Back when, I saw Musgrave and Oregon play Ohio State in the Shoe.

The Ducks gave the Bucks a good challenge + Musgrave had a good game.

But the last ‘game manager QB’ to win a title? The guy who QB’d Bama the year prior to Kiffin coming on board as the Tide’s OC.

Every champion QB since has been a 1st round draft pick. And most of the QB’s who have started in Playoff games have gone high in the draft.

I think Brown is capable of leading Oregon to this year’s Rose Bowl. But beyond that?


Dennis Dixon and Dion Jordan also proved that you dont have to be an NFL superstar to be a great college player. Throw in LaMike and DAT and Cliff Harris into that category as well.


I would say Brown is the smart, safe choice to have in front, as the battle below plays out. The question is does the battle below rise up and take him out?

I don’t think it is a given Brown starts the season under center. Brown was beat out by Shough, and could be by any of the young ones below. I personally hope he is and we have our next great one leading the program and slinging it to the new crop of wideouts.

This might happen next year, but it is going to happen!


I bet Brown would’ve started last year had we had normal spring and fall practices. It’s my understanding that Brown was late to the game because of practice time being shortened from Covid.
He did eventually take over so he essentially got 4 games worth of practice. Shough didn’t help his case much either.
It’s not saying much that Brown took over for Shough, IMO it wasn’t much of a hurdle. Maybe he’ll surprise us though.


I hope your right, but Moorhead signed on January 21st, Brown came on April 1st the same year. This gave Shough, maybe, 2 months of being aware of the offense which Moorhead was going to implement ahead of Brown.

Brown had more experience and close the same time learning the system. I think Brown is a place marker for one of the big guns behind him.

If Butterfield doesn’t win out, he is gone. He has had plenty of time to learn the Oregon way and win the starting job. I hope I am wrong on that as I like Butterfield, but he is too talented to sit behind guys and burn playing time.

If one of the other guys doesn’t win it this year then it can be chalked up to inexperience, they will stay.

If the guy who lost out to Shough is our starter I am a little concerned. That is just my perspective. One of these guys will beat out Brown, just like Shough did. Shough didn’t have the ‘it’ factor and neither does Brown.

Jon Sousa

Brown also was recovering from injury well into the summer. He could not practice at all during the 4 spring practices pre-COVID.

Jon Sousa

Butterfield and Ashford were both 4 star recruits. There is a lot of talent that hasn’t seen the field yet.


Agree that Brown isn’t it. I just hope he’s a decent game manager and doesn’t make many mistakes. Just keep moving the chains. A Vernon Adams or Masoli type would work for me.


Adams and Masoli were great college qbs. Adams lit it up at EWU, and the as a Duck. Masoli came in, took over and that is what I expect this year. An Adams or Masoli type player would work for me just about any year.


A. Brown is functional. Some of his long balls are off – which is his only real problem. On the short and medium stuff, he is quick to find a target and deliver a strike. He also makes a hard move to run the ball. Brown will be very good at running the offense.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

I agree about the OL being the priority for building a team, and not many coaches subscribe to it and I’m glad to see Cristobal is. With a great offensive line you can score easier in the early part of the game and burn clock easier in the latter part of the game. A great offensive line can serve as a defense as well–by staying on the field and keeping the defense off.

I completely agree with the concept; now about the execution….